Activist and former bookstore owner, DEACON MACCUBBIN was born on this day. Well-known as the founder and owner of Lambda Rising Books, Maccubbin has also been a supporter or founder of many gay Washington, DC institutions including youth outreach, media, the annual Pride celebrations, community social and business organizations, and the Lambda Literary Awards.
While still in the Army, Maccubbin became a gay activist, joining the Gay Liberation Front-DC briefly. In 1971, he took over a craftshop at 1724 20th St NW, turning it into the Earthworks tobacco and headshop. On June 8, 1974, Earthworks’ shelves of magazines and books became the core stock for the new Lambda Rising, one of the nation’s largest and most successful groups of gay bookstores.
As leader of the Community Building (a nickname from antiwar and counterculture days), Maccubbin turned the building into an incubator and haven for many new and struggling community groups, including the Gay Switchboard, gay youth groups, the Blade, off our backs, Roadwork, and many others.
Maccubbin was a founder and chair of the first major community group, the Washington Area Gay Community Council (WAGCC). In 1975 WAGCC launched the planning process for the second gay community center and published Just Us, the first guide to DC’s gay community. That same year, Maccubbin organized the first official Gay Pride, held on 20th St NW in front of the building.
In the 1973, he was arrested with Cade Ware and Bill Bricker from Gay Activists Alliance at a sit-in protesting police entrapment. His protests and civil disobedience continued during the 1980’s in response to federal inaction on AIDS research and funding with an arrest at the White House, and in the 1990’s in response to Clinton’s signing the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as additional arrests at protests against apartheid at the South African Embassy and against the Pope at Catholic University. Maccubbin has played important roles in the reform of D.C.’s sodomy law, passage of the D.C. Human Rights Act, and in responding to Bible-based attacks on homosexuality. In 1982, he and his life partner, Jim Bennett, were among the first to celebrate a Holy Union and they were the second couple to be registered as Domestic Partners in the District of Columbia.
In 2003, Deacon saved the Oscar Wilde Bookshop in New York City (which had inspired him to launch Lambda Rising) from closing. Maccubbin commented, “The store never closed its doors. It was open right on through. Historically, that’s important to me.” In 2006, the bookstore was sold to a local manager.